RAG Meetings

Observing Log 29/3/2019 @ 20:40 @ 30/3/2019 @ 01:30, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Swadlincote.

Observing Log 29/3/2019 @ 20:40 @ 30/3/2019 @ 01:30, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Swadlincote.

Andrew Thornett

Last night was AGM night at RAG and, after the AGM, we experienced one of those incredible nights – a clear sky that had been predicted all week so that many of us came prepared with telescopes, coats and hats, the latter two probably being the more important as the temperature dropped as the evening wore on!

Those RAG members who went outside to observe included Lee, Rob Leonard (with Sam and James), Nick Rufo/ Bob Williams, Angella and Alan, Ed/ Dave/ Chris Howe/ Chris Ford/ David Dugmore/ Adam/ Roger/Jon Pendleton/ Geoff/ Paul B / Paul Simkins /Pete Simkin /two new Members – Darren and new member Martin (Martin stayed right till the end), Heather, Neil Wyatt and myself.

Neil had bought along a whole imaging setup which was taking subs all night of a variety of targets and provided quite a talking point for astrophotographers and non astrophotographers alike. It still left him plenty of time to observe with the rest of us.

For me, observing started with an ISS pass over the forestry centre, observed from the car park behind the seminar room where we held the AGM. I wish I had bought along my hand held amateur radio to see if we could hear any of the astronomers on the ISS – sometimes they will speak to schools and other groups by ham radio.

I bought along my trusty Sky Watcher Equinox Pro 80mm scope, as it is difficult for me to fit anything bigger in the car on Fridays these days – now that I cart two six foot lads and their kit to school daily and my car boot is full of medical examination equipment. Sadly, there was no time for me to go home and collect a scope after work before RAG started. Although this scope is a trusted workhorse, and I had a great view of the Beehive Cluster through it, last night was not the night of small scopes but a time for the big Dobsonian light buckets. I could not see any galaxies in the Virgo cluster with my small scope last night – contrast this with Rob’s scopes below….

Rob Leonard bought along his 8 inch Sky Watcher Dob, in my view the best value telescope available new in the UK today, and we observed M51, M65 and M66, and M81 and M82, in that telescope. Rob also found clusters in Auriga, amongst others. I was quite proud to have found the Owl Nebula using this scope and my OIII filter. At this time of the night, this object was very faint.

The evening was initially partially cloudy but it cleared around midnight and for those of us that stayed the fun then really began. Rob erected his USA Orion 14 inch Dob and this scope was simply fantastic. It became a galaxy feist – I found nine galaxies within two fields of view around M86/Markarian’s Chain within a few seconds and the issue became identifying which was which. I could see the third NGC galaxy in the M65/M66 trio, Rob found the Sombero Galaxy, the Needle Galaxy and the Black Eye Galaxy. He even showed us the core of M101 – a very difficult object indeed to find.

I really just congratulate Rob on his excellent scopes and on his impressive star hopping abilities. This particular Orion USA Dob is an intelliscope version that he purchased second hand without intelliscope digital setting circle so he does rely currently on his abilities and as the above list shows it does not stop him at all!

I had to leave at 01:30 am due to commitments the following day but I left Rob and Neil with their scopes, continuing to observe and image the night sky. I wonder what great sights they saw after I left?

Andy

RAG Christmas Social Event, Buffet and Quiz, 2018

Thanks to Ed and Heather, assisted ably by Doreen, and with marvellous music from a fabulous trio of RAG musicians, we had a fantastic Christmas Social Event this evening (14th December) at the forestry centre.

Ed laid on spectacular series of quizzes, including a Generation-game style memory game, general knowledge and general science team quizzes, touchy feely recognition game.

Raffles, food bought by members and music and plenty of fun!

A great evening, with a number of members of our families attending too.

Andy

RAG Monthly Meeting 30/11/2018

Thirty folks attended our November meeting of Rosliston Astronomy Group.

Ed gave us an update on the Peter Bokas Observatory build – the wall of the done is about 2/3 if it’s final height and the building is starting to appear!  In another few weeks we will have a completed shell which we will then need to outfit ourselves.

Ed also gave our main talk of the evening on Fractal Cosmology. We have never had a talk on this subject before and he linked the astronomical aspects of fractals to where they are seen elsewhere in nature.

After coffee, Alan and Angela Rodgers talked about weather predictions and equipment – useful for predicting clouds and rain in your garden/observatory location!

Andy

RAG Mid-month Meeting 16/11/18

With some new members present, Ed gave the group a fun and exciting update on the observatory build which is now actually happening and I led a group on a microscopy session where those taking part had to make their own slides of pond weed.

(The picture of the slide below is taken with hand held phone through Leitz Laborlux microscope – it is the end of a flat worm.)

Andy

Peter Bolas Lecture 2018 – Dr. Braddock astronaut space science 19/10/2018

The subject for last evening’s Peter Bolas Lecture was definitely a change for RAG. Those of you who were able to join us enjoyed a comprehensive and very thought provoking presentation by an active Scientist, based in Cambridge, who was extremely generous with sharing both his time and knowledge. Dr. Braddock had the skill of all successful Speakers – to be able to explain extremely complex concepts in a very simple and easily understood manner.

Dr Braddock is also very generous with his information, and we learnt a great deal about the science behind human existence in space.

Martin has agreed to return to us some time in the future with a different focus.

Andy

 

Mid-monthly RAG meeting

Although I had initially not intended at attend this meeting, I did go to drop off a telescope and stayed for a lovely social time with a great group of folks.

…..This led to one of my more hilarious experiences in Astronomy. Lee Bale helped me to change the European two-pin plug on a neon DADOS spectrometry light I picked up today for a bargain £10 at the International Astronomy Show. We could not understand why this seemed to have a poor connection. The light kept turning on and off. We cut the end off the cable and re-wired it, bent connectors to tighten them, trimmed plastic in the casing that we thought was splaying connectors and virtually resorted to throwing it in the bin in disgust……. Until Lee had the inspired idea of turning the main light off in the seminar room at at Rosliston. Magically, the neon light turned on steady and bright. We turned the main ceiling light back on and the neon light went out – and we realised there was a light-sensitive detector in the neon bulb housing which was turning it on and off. When we were working on it, each time we leaned forward to work out what was going on, our heads would shield the neon light from the ceiling light causing it to come on. Then we would lean back and it would go off again!

Andy

Mid-monthly RAG meeting 24/8/2018

Lee and Nick talked about 6 objects to observe in night sky and various telescope finder devices including Lee’s homemade version of a device similar to a Telrad – a beefy version with 50mm binocular lens in it, 1/10 wave mirror and in-built heater! He is suggesting a workshop to make our own versions of the same but improved over the commercial original- sign me up!

After Lee and NIck’s talk, I gave a brief demonstration of the DIY Spectroscope – thankfully it worked producing instant spectra for the lights in the room!

Andy

Nick Cox (left) and Lee Bale (right) give their talk at RAG:

Rhys tries out Lee’s homemade version of  Telrad finder:

Butterflies in Lichfield

On Friday evening after RAG, members of the astronomy group were invited to walk down to the Moth Group’s moth-observing area further in the forestry centre. It’s fantastic when scientific groups can share information and experiences. They showed us many beautiful moths but they did not have any examples of this intimate pair which Damian, Ean Ean and I saw on Saturday evening on a walk in Lichfield (the day after RAG) – these two are Six Spotted Burnet moths and were visible in broad daylight – I had not known that was possible until the moth folks told us that some moths were active in the day, and indeed Six-Spotted Burnets are one such species.

Andy

The following information comes from https://butterfly-conservation.org/1034-1540/six-spot-burnet.html

Six-Spotted Burnet Moths. Scientific name: Zygaena filipendulae

June – August. All over Britain, mainly coastal in Scotland. Medium-sized black moth with six red, occasionally yellow, spots. Frequents flowery grassland, woodland rides and sandhills.

The only British burnet moth with six red spots on each forewing, although care must be taken with identification, as in some cases the outermost spots can be fused. Rarely the red colour is replaced by yellow.

Flies with a usually slow buzzing flight during sunshine and is attracted to a range of flowers including thistles, knapweeds and scabious.

Size and Family

  • Family – Burnets and Foresters (Zygaenids)
  • Medium Sized

Conservation status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Common

Particular Caterpillar Food Plants

Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil, but also occasionally on Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland
  • The commonest and most widely distributed burnet moth in the UK. Well distributed in England, Wales and Ireland, becoming more coastal in Scotland and found on the Outer Hebrides. Also found on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Habitat

Frequents flowery grasslands, including downland, cliff-edges, woodland rides, roadside verges and sand-dunes